The Box: A Novel (Paperback)
A stylistically dazzling novel about objects, people, and the forces and seams between them.
Of course, each thing has its own sides to every story.
In a dark and crooked lane in an unnamed city where it never ceases to snow, a small white box falls from a coat pocket. It is made of paper strips woven tightly together; there is no apparent way to open it without destroying it. What compels a passing witness, a self-described anthrophobe not inclined to engage with other people, to pick up the box and chase after the stranger who dropped it?
The Box follows an impenetrable rectangle as it changes hands in a collapsing metropolis, causing confluences, conflicts, rifts, and disasters. Different narrators, each with a distinctive voice, give secondhand accounts of decisive moments in the box’s life. From the anthrophobe to a newly hired curator of a renowned art collection, from a couple who own an antiquarian bookshop to a hotel bartender hiding from a terrible past, the storytellers repeat rumors and rely on faulty memories, grasping at something that continually escapes them. Haunting their recollections is one mysterious woman who, convinced of the box’s good or evil powers, pursues it with deadly desperation.
In this mesmerizing, intricately constructed puzzle of a novel, Mandy-Suzanne Wong challenges our understanding of subjects and objects, of cause and effect. Is it only humans who have agency? What is or isn’t animate? What do we value and what do we discard?
About the Author
Mandy-Suzanne Wong is a Bermudian writer of fiction and essays. Her works include the novel Drafts of a Suicide Note, the essay collection Listen, we all bleed, and the chapbooks Awabi and Artificial Wilderness.
“If one of César Aira’s sly, sophisticated fictions took a detour through Jane Bennett’s theory of vibrant matter, the result might look something like The Box. At once a detective story, a meditation on art in the Anthropocene, and a speculative encounter with the liveliness of things, Mandy-Suzanne Wong’s startling novel is literature for our times.”—Sofia Samatar, author of The White Mosque
“Mandy-Suzanne Wong’s bold, singular, and brilliant novel is so strange, so enigmatic, it’s nearly impossible to describe. By turns funny and profound, The Box is a feat of language and storytelling and, in the end, a revelation.”—Mark Haber
“The Box is an extraordinary novel, gamesome and philosophical. Not since Borges have I experienced fiction as a perfect maze or puzzle, endlessly pleasing. The reader enters it, fascinated, just as s/he goes out into the snow, which is always falling. Mandy-Suzanne Wong is a writer to watch.”—Amina Cain, author of A Horse at Night and Indelicacy
“Riveting and elegant, The Box brings to mind Kazuo Ishiguro at his most enigmatic.”—Daisy Rockwell, translator of Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree and author of Taste